Title page for ETD etd-12202010-143439

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Hung, Yu-Hsiu
URN etd-12202010-143439
Title How Technology Diffuses through Construction User Culture: An Innovation Design to Improve Safety Technology Adoption
Degree PhD
Department Industrial and Systems Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Smith-Jackson, Tonya L. Committee Co-Chair
Winchester, Woodrow W. III Committee Co-Chair
Babski-Reeves, Kari L. Committee Member
Kleiner, Brian M. Committee Member
Mills, Thomas H. Committee Member
  • roofing
  • construction
  • safety
  • fall-protection training
  • innovation
  • technology adoption
  • participatory design (PD)
Date of Defense 2010-12-03
Availability restricted
Usability has long been considered an important component of an innovation (Norman, 2002), evidenced by the fact that usability research has dominated innovation design efforts for a number of years. However, recent research has shown that satisfying usability is not sufficient for the successful diffusion and adoption of an innovation (Karsh, 2004). To develop an useful innovation, one must understand the mechanisms by which people choose to adopt and use an innovation, as well as how an innovation fits different levels of a socialtechnical system (Karsh, Escoto, Beasley, & Holden,(2006). The goal of this research, therefore, was to develop an innovation analytic and design framework that would enable designers to design a more likely adopted innovation and to validate it through the design and evaluation of a fall-protection training intervention for residential roofing subcontractors.

The proposed innovation analytic and design framework was based on the traditional systems-engineering process: Requirement Analysis, Prototype Development, and Summative Evaluation. Rogers’ Theory of Innovation Diffusion and Adoption, as well as Participatory Design, were utilized to obtain a holistic view of technology-adoption challenges and opportunities.

The requirement analysis involved the development and use of a questionnaire and semi-structured interviews to identify the contributors of safety technology adoption in small roofing companies, as well as to understand the practices of safety technology adoption and fall-protection training. One hundred and four questionnaires from workers in North Carolina and Virginia were collected, and 29 workers received the follow-up semi-structured interview. Results showed that (1) social influence had a significant impact on the diffusion and adoption of safety technology; (2) workers’ satisfaction with existing safety performance standards/practices, as well as disengagement during available safety training, caused difficulties in implementing regular safety training; (3) management commitment and presentation of good/bad consequences of unsafe behavior were expected to facilitate the rate of adoption of safety technology. Results also identified specific recommendations for a fall-protection training intervention.

The prototype development was performed by a six-member Participatory Design (PD) team in a PD workshop, who used the results of the questionnaire and semi-structured interviews to develop a training intervention. Four PD approaches (PICTIVE, Inspiration Card Workshop, Scenario Building, and Future Workshop) were employed in the development of a Personal Fall Arrest System (PFAS) as an industry-specific training intervention.

This research also used summative comparative evaluation to assess the developed PFAS training intervention against a standard PFAS training intervention with respect to (1) adoption propensity, (2) expected adoption outcome, and (3) results demonstrability. Eighteen roofing workers were recruited to evaluate and compare the two interventions. The standard PFAS training intervention was developed by two experts using the safety manual published by the National Roofing Contractor Association. Results suggested that (1) the developed PFAS training intervention was more likely to be adopted and easier to diffuse among roofing subcontractors than the standard PFAS training intervention, and (2) use of the developed PFAS training intervention would better improve company’s safety performance in comparison to the standard training intervention. Results of the evaluations confirmed the efficacy of the proposed innovation analytic and design framework in designing a more likely adopted innovation.

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